Friday, April 30, 2010

Last Day of Poetry Month!

It may be the last day of of our month long celebration of poetry, but I want to encourage you to read and listen to poetry all year long.

Listening poems read aloud is a musical experience! Here is another beautiful collection of poetry for kids that also is recorded on cd.

Enjoy the poems on the page, in the car, or on your ipods.

Enjoy the read! Happy Poetry Month to You!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Last Song- Movie Watching with the Girls

As you know, Auntie CC and I took all the girls to see, The Last Song, starring Miley Cyrus. We all loved it. Most of us cried. After the movie we had to discuss the events of the movie.

After I read, watch a movie, or even go on a vacation, I like to retell it and remember and linger upon the best parts. It's an important skill to be able to identify significant parts and be able to analyze why they are significant- both to the text and to our own lives.

I don't want to give away our favorite parts and significance that we found in the movie- trust me, our car load of girls came up with many. So I will just describe the conversation and how it went. It took some of us awhile to really decide which parts meant more to us than others and why. It is easy to say, "I like the part when.... happened." It is harder to then explore, "Why?" It is in this next step that leads us to a more interpretative understanding of books, characters, movies or even life.

As we turned the corner to the nieces' house, Little A said, "Wait! I have a fourth favorite part!" Before we emptied ourselves onto the sidewalk, we all pondered this next part of the film. Remembering our predictions and lingering on what actually happened in the movie. We all talked about this last part. Then we ran into the house and ate Easter supper!

After watching a film or reading a book, find out from the people in your Literary Family, what are their favorite parts and why?

Enjoy the reading!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The First Birthday: Some Suggestions

As I made the list of books for 2 years olds- I realized I have a bunch of friends this spring who have babies are turning one! Let me just suggest a few winners that my dear little man, my nephew loved on his first birthday.

Busy Doggies. It is actually a whole series of books, A Busy Book Series, that talks about busy animals. Busy Chickens, Busy Horsies, Busy Barnyard Animals.

Off We Go by Jane Yolen, is a beautiful, sing-song book of animals going to grandma's house. Very sweet, very fun.

Choo Choo Cickety Clack By Margaret Mayo, is a fun rhythmic text about trains. Big winner with the train obsessed nephew!

Have fun with the new reads!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Read Poetry By Children

Georgia Heard, a poet I have mentioned in the blog before, features children as poets in her book, For the Good of the Earth and Sun: Teaching Poetry. Georgia is both a poet who writes to teach teachers, to teach adults (Writing Towards Home) and to teach children. Her new book, A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades byGeorgia Heard and Jen McDonough, is sure to be a wonderful one, not just for teachers but for families too.

A wonderful way to celebrate poetry month is to read poems by other children. Some of our favorite poets have published books that feature children as the poets! Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets, edited and compiled by Naomi Shihab Nye, is a beautiful poetry book with magnificent illustrations.


As you look for poetry books to celebrate this month- consider a book that celebrates children first! Children are natural poets! Happy Poetry Month to You!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day.

Read Todd Parr's new book, The Earth Book.

Read books and articles. Find ways to celebrate the Earth.

Talk about the Earth. Read about the Earth. Inquire about the Earth. Think about how you and your family and friends can help make the Earth a better place to live.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Joy of Inquiry: Ask Questions Close to Home

What is that? Why does it look that way? What is it doing? Is it always going to look like that is going to change?

Curiosity is wonderful and contaigious. We want children to be curious about the world and ask many questions about it! This is what scientists, writers, historians, doctors, and mechanics do. They raise questions, gather up data and observations and make guesses and research some more.

Why not take a walk and study something in your neighborhood together: a plot of earth, a construction site, a series of stars in the sky or even a tree. Look at. Observe it together. Raise questions. Try and answer them. Read about the topic. Ask other people about the topic. Visit your "something" once a week (or month) to see how it has changed.

You can do the same with a photograph or a series of
photographs. Maybe it is a photograph about the natural world or maybe one from history. You can follow the same inquiry method with these text sources as well!

Looking closely, raising questions, searching for answers, and then looking again is a great way to capture children's attention and to learn and build content knowledge about the world. It also is a great bonding experience- learning about a topic together!

"Is that tree beginning to bud. I think I see a nest in the tree. Is that a bird's nest in the tree or is it for a squirrel? Will it have big green leaves?"

Maybe you will want to study to study how plants change in spring and summer or you will want to study how effective recycling is in your town. Maybe you have questions or just interests in your immediate vicinity. Show kids how to turn their world into sets of questions that they can eventually answer and research together. Revisit the photographs or come back and visit the same pond two weeks later. What has changed and what is the same?

Whatever it is, show kids the joy of first hand research! Show them the joy and necessity that we all have as communitty members to be inquisitive and informed!

Enjoy the studying. Enjoy the reads.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Great Literary Event For the Whole Family To Enjoy

April 24th and April 25th- The Los Angeles Times presents a Festival of Books.

I love a book festival. It is California's turn! Don't miss it! Lots of literary events for you and the kids! Enjoy readings and discussions. Buy some new great books too!
Enjoy the day and enjoy the books.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Host a Literary Party: Poetry Open Mic

It's poetry month. Why not celebrate by hosting a literary party! What kind of literary party? Why not host an "Open Mic Night" at your house. Get a microphone (it could be from one of those toy karaoke machines) and gather up all your favorite poems. Invite your family and friends to your house. Ask them to bring their favorite poems. They may even want to bring one that they have written.

Invite the children and the adults, one by one, to get up on the microphone and read. Celebrate by snapping fingers. Have some paper and pens available, in case you and your friends are inspired to write. Provide some snacks and refreshments while you listen and are moved by the words you hear.

You may even decide to video tape it so that you cans end it to friends and family and everyone is able to watch and re-watch the special evening at home.

Celebrate poetry, celebrate the spoken and written word. Happy Poetry Month to You!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Poetry Smiles to You. Happy Poetry Month

Happy Poetry Month. Paul is one of my favorite poets! I love the books he writes for children.

This book, The Place My Words Are Working For, is a lovely book that talks about poets and features a couple of each of their poems. Naomi Shihab Nye and Myra Cohen Livingston, are two of my favorites featured! Read this book with kids and talk about their lives as poets and writers. Kids can reflect on their writing lives too!

This poetry book was recommended by Paul on his website. It looks beautiful.
Read Paul's website!

Find the poets that inspire your Literary Family! Read them, find out about the poets' lives, and write a little together! Enjoy poetry month! Discover a new poem, discover a new poet.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Traveling with a PreTeen: Facebook, Don't Leave Home Without It

Facebook is literacy too. So the other night, Auntie CC, her three nieces, AB and I snuggled up on the sofa. We got ready to watch a movie and eat popcorn all night! Cozy and comfy in our jamas, we all started to get settled into our evening's plan. Pre-Teenager A grabbed Auntie CC’s computer, as the rest of us were gathering up pillows to watch our film. Needless to say, in trying to orchestrate all of our needs, it took a bit of time. PTA didn’t want to waste her time- she was ready. She clicked on to Facebook in a heartbeat and narrated the rest of the evening online with 20 of her closest friends. Creating and reading status updates, IM-ing and sending emails are all part of a teenager's literacy life. Not only did PTA type the entire movie and then some, I think she was literally on FB for a four hours straight last night!

Facebook is literacy. There is a ton of literary potential inside of the social networking. Literacy is all about networking in social circles. You read and write with friends. At one point PTA asked, “What should I write about now on FB? What should we talk about?” What an opportunity not to be missed. Don't worry, I suggested a few topics for her and her friends!

Don’t be afraid of Facebook- engage with it, embrace it! Get to know it yourself so that when you talk to your pre-teens and teens you are “in” on the conversation!

Enjoy the text, enjoy the read.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Celebrate Every Family

Books help to shape how you see yourself and others in the world. To many of us, reading books about kids and people from diverse backgrounds is important. We both want to create positive self images and to understand and grow positive images of others. Reading about families that look and sound like yours, help you to see yourself in the world. Reading about families that are different then your own, helps you to understand others in your communities!

My friends, in California, who adopted twin three year olds and who have a beautiful 2 year old girl, asked me about the library I am creating for my nephew. They wanted to know mostly about his books that celebrate a diversity of ethnicities and families. They wanted some good titles of books that feature kids of color.

My sister and I have tried to find books that not only celebrate diversity within a family- but that also celebrates diversity of what "makes up" a family!

For my nephew’s library I have collected a few books that help to highlight these things about our family values. I got him, Families by Susan Kuklin. This book is a series of photo essays of kids and their families at home. The kids are from diverse backgrounds and blended families.

Another favorite of my nephew is the book, Black is Brown is Tan, a poetry book by Arnold Adoff. Arnold is poet extraordinaire. He is married to Virginia Hamilton, another famous YA novelist. This poem is a celebration of their family. My nephew can listen to this book 3 times in a row! He has loved it ever since he was little.

We also have, What a Family by Rachel Isadora. My nephew likes to read this book and then we open up our photo albums of our family. We read them side by side and talk about everyone in our family.

More More More Said the Baby, by Vera B Williams, is another favorite of my nephew. He runs the house as if he is little guy and little pumpkin! He references the book often in his play and loves to be chased!

My nephew, ever since he was a baby, has loved loved Shades of Black! It is not a story, rather a list and beautiful set of photos of kids. He loves listening to the lyrical language and reading about kids! This was one of the first books he memorized!

Who’s Toes Are Those and Who’s Knees Are These, were two books he read repeatedly in daycare. We decided he needed them at home too! Brown Angels is one of my favorite poems, (made into a picture book), by Walter Dean Meyers.

Two of my nephew’s favorite picture books, that feature illustrations of kids of color are Looking For a Moose and Subway Anatasia Suen. When our friends had their baby, we got my nephew and their son, I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother, by Selina Alko.

Look for books that reflect your family’s heritage, family structure and values! Look for books that introduce your kids to other backgrounds, family structures and values! Open your lives to celebrating families of all kinds and you will open the world to your kids!

A List of More Books to Look Up and Add to Your Library!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Catching Up With facebook

Some of you read us because you found us on the internet. Others of you read us because you found us on facebook or twitter. Whatever the case, here are some extra articles that we posted on facebook, in case you missed them. Feel free to become a fan of facebook, if you haven't already.

Articles, blogs, books about books to read
1. Vote here for your favorite books and authors!

2. Laurie Halse Anderson's website. We love her!

3. Eternal!

4. Great books to buy about and by Native Americans.

Articles about education and reading
1. We went to hear Bob Herbert and Vivian Paley speak about Early Childhood Education. Two fascinating people speaking up for what kids need.

2. The Case For Literature By Nancie Atwell

3. Even Preschoolers can read! Read Slate here.

4. Did you celebrate Nowruz? Happy New Year!

5. Families reading together!

6. Did you celebrate World Book Day?!

6. Sara's family was written up in The Washington Post about their work in South Africa and the book drive!

Articles that are Photographs/Films
1. Photojournalism. Study photographs from the past.

Good Blogs to Read
1. A family that blogs. Here is their BLOG.

2. A wonderful blog about children literature. Read about poets and poems this month! Also, this blog featured The Literary Family!

3. A blog about reading with boys!

4. We love reading the Tiny Reader. These past two months she has posted activities, interviews and her own poetry!

5. Pat Cummings has a blog!

6. Melanie Hope Greenberg has a blog!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reading Longer Books

The other night, I got to put Little Sister L to sleep. She picked out her latest favorite, Ladybug Girl and Lilly's special day. I have always been amazed by LSL and her stamina in being able to listen to longer storybooks- ever since she was about 18 months. She enjoys the long picture books (and a couple in a row) and then needs to be "tucked" into bed with EVERY Maisy book. Just in case she wants to "read". Seriously. I know. It is the cutest thing ever.

Baby C (who isn't such a baby anymore)- loves to read early chapter books, like Poppleton and Henry and Mudge. We spend a good 20 minutes reading Poppleton, and studying the map and reading each of the three stories in the book.

My nephew this summer, when he was just 2, started listening to longer stories before nap time. Koala Lou became a big reading ritual. And then we would call each other by name and say the in famous line. He would wake up and find his mama and say, “Mama-lou, I do love you!” Longer books hook you into literary language, give you that sense of story structure and as we know increases your exposure to vocabulary.

Read longer books to kids of all ages. Watch and be amazed at their love for story. Push the limits! See what they can handle and enjoy!

Happy reading to You!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Traveling with a Pre-Teen #3: What Books Would You Pick Out?

Auntie CC and I took the girls out on a literary extravaganza! We headed first to the Science Center here in Seattle and then over to Elliot Bay Bookstore in Pioneer Square. A wonderful bookstore that Mama J and Little Moon took me to the last time I was here in the Northwest!

I told you already on Facebook that I got for my nephew, a little souvenir! Where Do I Sleep? A Northwest Lullaby. This afternoon we skyped- while AB and Pre-Teenager A were texting and watching New Moon. Over the computer I read him his new book.

But the pre-teens? What did they pick? Well, the vampire genre of books were certainly calling. My Middle School Teacher Friend EZ suggested the series, The Hunger Game. PTA confirmed it was a great series, so AB got the first two books! She also looked through Shiver and we got that one too!

PTA was searching hard. She was trying to decide whether or not to read the Vampire Diaries or to go with books not linked to any series. She chose two really interesting choices! Wintergirls (by Laurie Halse Anderson who wrote the amazing book, Speak) and Ash.

In the middle of New Moon it was time to meet up with Little A, Little K, Auntie CC and Papa J for pizza. We paused the movie and on the way out they door they shouted, "Can we bring our books?" I guess they forgot for a split second who they were with!

"Bien sur!" I replied. "Grab 'em and let's go!"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Writing is the New Reading

Auntie CC and I were having a great couple of days with the nieces and god kids! Before we went out on our next excursion, we had some time to kill. While Auntie CC and Teenager A were getting ready (Oh, how aunties love Spring Break) Little A and Little K were hanging out with AB and I.

Little K drew a portrait. I asked her, "Is that Auntie CC?" It was a portrait of a girl with long hair in a cute little red dress with heels. Little K said, “No. I don’t know who it is.”

I suggested to Little K, "You could make her a character! You could write a book or better yet a comic strip!" She loved the idea, but with trepidation. How was she going to write a comic strip? She never had done one before. "Isn’t that too hard?" she said me. Many 7 year olds would love the opportunity to write their own fiction. All they need is a little structure and some quick encouragement. I showed Little K how she could fold her pages, number her boxes, and where to draw and write her tale of the Lady in Red! She took off and began to write.

Little A, 3 years younger, in pre K, also wanted to make her stories. She quickly ran over to me and showed me her story, “The Vampire Girl and the Vampire Dog”.

“Wonderful!” I noted, “Now what about the words? How will we remember that is what it is?” Little A said that she would just tell everyone! I smiled. “I think you should write the words in case someone wants to read it and you are not here! Or you could give it to Auntie CC as a gift!”

“I want to give it to Auntie CC!”

“So, let’s write her some words,” I suggested.

She looked at me and said, “But I don’t know how to write it. Can you write it?”

I told her that she could and that Auntie CC would looooove it!”

I helped LA stretch out the first word. I said the word super slow so she could hear each sound and then she recorded the letter. LA has great letter/sound knowledge but lacks the confidence to do it on her own. For her second word she looked at me to do the same. This time I had her say each sound slowly. With hesitation she said the word slowly and then looked up at me and say, "G?" I confirmed with a slight nod and smile. She continued through and when she got to the end of the word, I gave her a high five and showed her how she did both on her own! Then she went on!

She made three stories before Auntie CC and PTA came back ready for our next trip. Little A and Little K showed their auntie their "hard" yet "fun" work they did on their own!

Writing is fun! We just need to encourage and remember that making books is just as fun as reading them! Have fun writing some books together!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Traveling With a Pre-Teen:Reading and Writing in Cafes

For AB's thirteenth birthday this year, the two of us decided to fly across the country, to Seattle, to travel, site see, and read and write together! We started working on our itinerary in the airport so that we would know what we could expect to do each day- almost like a little list of hopeful accomplishments!

Each day we included looking for a new cafe so that we could read, her from her Kindle, me from my paperbacks. We also included each day sometime for AB to work on her writing and I could work on my blog.

AB loved the idea -both of sitting in cafes and reading and writing everyday. Luckily, here in Seattle, we have spectacular views, awesome natural world, fun activities, and a zillion cafes filled with other readers and writers.

We also planned a quick trip to Elliot Bay's Bookstore in Pioneer Square in Seattle. We are already running low on materials!

Happy reading and writing to you!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby C. You Are 3!

Happy Birthday Baby C! We love you muchisimo!
Have a great birthday!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Perfect For a Toddler

The day I left for Montreal, to go to my nephew’s birthday weekend extravaganza, I was talking with my friend- Auntie KB- about all the ways we were going to celebrate his birthday. “What an aunt you are! I need some suggestions for my 2 year old nephew!” Did I have some suggestions for her!

My nephew absolutely fell in love the Van Fleet Books. Dogs was his favorite but he had, Cats, Tails, Alphabet and The Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings! They have been a big hit with my nephew ever since he was a baby.

We also loved to capitalize on his love for the ABC's by getting many ABC books! One that we all especially love is, Creature ABC. Not only did it help to develop his letter recognition, phonemic awareness, but it also contributed to his knowledge of animal vocabulary.

There is this adorable interactive series called, Little Drivers. Both my nephew and Baby C have loved these books to death! Literally! They feature kids, of different ethnicity, driving the different kinds of vehicles. You can actually "put the driver" into the truck or airplane as you read! Different books feature different themes such as: emergency vehicles or transportation in cities.

Finally my last suggestions for toddlers is my nephew's latest favorite, Lost and Found by Olivers Jeffers. My friend, The Rocky Mountain Mama, introduced me to this series. Her two boys LOVE this author and have enjoy reading his different books. This has been my nephew's latest "go to" book to read on his own.

Hope this helps the gift giving and reading process! Happy reading to you all!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sharon Creech: Dogs and Cats

Love That Dog

Hate That Cat

Two novels, written in verse, with poetry embedded, about kids enjoying the writing process. Moving stories.

Happy Poetry Month.